Getting Over the Working Mom Guilt
After all this Mother’s Day hype, I felt it again: the aching need to be with my son everyday of his life.
Everytime I look at him when he sleeps, whenever I sing to him or hum a lullaby to sleep, a part of me always wants to cry. Telling him, “Please don’t grow up so fast. Mommy wants more time with you.” Babies are so amazing, everyday they have different tricks up their sleeves. One day they are so small and delicate, and the next day you’ll see them rolling on the bed. Sooner or later, my four-month-old baby boy will be able to crawl, eat solids, and walk.
Yesterday, I saw this commercial on TV. The boy was making a rocket from plastic bottles. He was working so hard to make this rocket fly, but on his first attempt, he failed. The other kids laughed at him, which made the boy cry. His mom rushed to his side, offering to help him. She gave him a glass of milk, took out more plastic bottles, and helped the boy with the rocket. Finally, they were able to launch the rocket. Fast-forward and the boy became an astronaut. He was wearing a patch that resembled the DIY rocket he and his mom made when he was a kid. He was now launching a rocket of his own, with his mom still by his side.
I was almost in tears because I realized I might not be that kind of mom who will always be by her son’s side, watching his every step, always ready to catch him when he falls. Being a working mom will make it difficult for me to do that, as much as I want to.
I spend nine hours of my day working as an admin assistant in a dairy company, while my partner—my son’s daddy—looks after him. He chose to be the one to stay home and take care of our son, a decision he believes will be for the best. After all, I admit that I am not the domesticated type, never a fan of household chores, and not equipped with the skills to be a devoted stay-at-home mom. There’s just the two of us, no helper to depend on.
Everytime I leave the house, I would kiss my son, asleep on the bed, and I will feel this overwhelming guilt. I’m not the one giving our son a bath, deciding what he wears, feeding him that bottle of milk he can now hold. I’m not the one who witnesses his new tricks, that he can now play with his feet, smells them, and many more. And sometimes, I’m worried that it makes me less of a mother than I should be if I just stay home and take care of him longer.
At work, my thoughts are elsewhere. Is my baby sleeping? Is he crying? Is he fussy? Is he playing with daddy? Does he miss me, too? Will he still remember me after five days of not being with him again? I would ask his daddy, “How many bottles of milk has he consumed?” or “Pls take a selfie with baby.” Just a glimpse of him laughing or smiling completes my day. Weekends are not enough to show him all the love I can give, to give him all the time, to carry him enough to remember me always. I’m missing him every minute. I wish I had more time to feed him, more time to be beside him. I wish I was home with him. I wish I could be that mom in the TV commercial, the one who’d be physically there for him everyday.
But now, I finally came to terms with how I feel. Last Mother’s Day, my partner gave me a letter. In the letter, he said “Although I’m the one fulfilling the mommy duties, you are still Baby Gabe’s mom. And no one can change that.” He reassures me of how lucky they are to have me. And I realized, he’s right. So now I have decided to focus my energies on accepting what life gives me and staying strong. I realized that, as a parent, you have to know what’s best for you and your family based on your own unique circumstances. Mom or dad, we each have different roles to play. Each one is important and difficult in its own way. I know it is physically exhausting to take care of a child as it is stressful and challenging to work in the office. For me, I simply chose to show my love for my son—and our family—through supporting them financially. I hope that being a working mom does not make me a bad mom, and I hope people woud be open-minded to different household set-ups and stop judging.
To all working moms out there, stay strong and know that whatever happens, your family loves and accepts you. Choosing to work everyday won’t change the fact that I gave birth to my son, that I am forever protective of him, that in my heart I will always love him unconditionally even if I’m not physically around most of the time. I am still his mommy, and to me he will always be my baby.